Sep 26, 2007

LANL Temporary resolution to buoy lab

By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
September 26, 2007

Spending measure buys Congress more time for final appropriations bill

Workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory got a six-week break from steep budget cuts as congressional leaders worked out a temporary spending bill that funds the lab at last year’s levels.

The measure, called a continuing resolution, allows Congress more time to work out a final appropriations bill for the 2008 fiscal year, which begins Monday.

There will be no layoffs in the next six weeks, but that was the case anyway, a lab spokesman said. The measure was crafted by House and Senate leaders, and would cover 12 appropriations bills that have yet to be enacted into law. It will likely be voted on later this week.

The resolution “provides us with some much needed breathing room and of course we greatly appreciate the hard work of our senators, especially Sen. (Pete) Domenici,” lab spokesman Kevin Roark said.

Domenici is the ranking Republican on the Senate subcommittee that pays for energy and water projects nationwide.

“This buys us time to redouble our efforts to put together... a funding bill that will allow our nation’s nuclear complex to continue critical nuclear deterrent efforts and to minimize the layoffs at LANL and Sandia contemplated under the House-passed bill,” Domenici said.

One worst-case scenario at Los Alamos, as requested by government agencies, could result in 2,500 layoffs.

“This is as good as we could have hoped for in the near term,” U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said. “It maintains the status quo while we fight to ensure that our labs are funded as close as possible to President Bush’s budget request.”

Roark added this measure does not substantially change the lab’s planning process. “We still need to see what kind of spending bill comes out of Congress in November,” he said.

The continuing resolution expires Nov. 16.

U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said he was pleased with the resolution but again encouraged the lab to diversify its mission.

Lab director Michael Anastasio has previously told workers the budget could be flat at best or a $350 million cut at worst. The lab’s current budget is more than $2.1 billion, and 12,115 workers are employed there. Of that total, 9,046 work for Los Alamos National Security LLC, which operates the lab for the government.

Contact Andy Lenderman at 986-3073 or alenderman@sfnewmexican.com.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congress has an entire year to finish this homework assignment. Why do they ask for an extension every time?

Anonymous said...

Are these reporters so stupid to realize that almost every year there is a CR.

Like the OSE coach to the media - Stop reporting crap and report facts.

Morons

Anonymous said...

Congress: Thanks for your efforts.

BUT Roark added "this measure does not substantially change the lab’s planning process."

Translation- Unless congress gives Bechtel its 110 M dollar costs as a line-item gift, LANS is doing a RIF!! ARE YOU LISTENING? Reread the statement.

One out of ten of LANL employees is getting a 60 day notice by Christmas... Yes. You will get another job- you are a talented bunch. But everything you have built your life around is going to be trashed for the LANS fee. Your house, neighborhood, schools, insurance, retirement, family.

"Line up. You are being punished. Would every tenth person please step forward. Ready. Aim. Fire.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I missed it, but where is NNSA's clear, forceful, and unambiguous public statement on the negative impacts to US national security of the proposed cuts if enacted, including loss of the technical talent at the design labs??

I submit that if there has been no such statement, then we must assume that the executive branch agrees with the legislative branch that the cuts are appropriate. Since the judicial branch doesn't generally weigh in on such things, effectively our government has made a decision. As with most government decisions, someone pays the price for the "greater good."

Or perhaps, all the serious discussion is taking place in private. Or perhaps, NNSA is following some agenda other than national security?

Evidence of serious thought and leadership are glaringly absent in this whole mess.

Anonymous said...

"There will be no layoffs in the next six weeks, but that was the case anyway, a lab spokesman said."

"The resolution “provides us with some much needed breathing room and of course we greatly appreciate the hard work of our senators, especially Sen. (Pete) Domenici,” lab spokesman Kevin Roark said."

The CR will give LANS time to plan out the RIF.

Anonymous said...

The local politicians are now on board for at least moderate layoffs at LANL. LANS is going to need them to help pay all the new fees. Last year, LANS barely squeaked by with a fairly generous budget. The only thing that put us over the top were the LANL "rainy day" funds, which are now almost completely depleted.

LANS needs some budgetary slack, and they will get it with layoffs of around 7 to 8% of staff. The pink slips for this will go out around early December. If the FY08 budget comes in below flat line funding, then we'll likely see a second stage RIF (say another 5% to 10%) sometime in the Spring.

Note that Miller over at LLNL recently said that the DOE 3161 restructuring document they are now completing will be an "enduring document". You can bet that LANS sees this document in the same fashion. Thus, we'll likely see the threat of RIFs continue over the next few years at the weapons labs.

Anonymous said...

NNSA will require LANL weapons programs to spend as if the weapons budget were only $700M, despite the CR. NNSA will deliberately withold the difference in funding specified by the CR, holding LANL projected spending to the $700M figure. So despite all the political crowing, come Oct 1 the weapons program is looking at a $300M shortfall, which may or may not persist once (if)congress passes an actual budget. So in fact, the CR will NOT even temporarily relieve the steep budget cuts.

Anonymous said...

8:12 pm: "NNSA will require LANL weapons programs to spend as if the weapons budget were only $700M, despite the CR."

If this requirement exists it is certainly not classified. So, link to it or scan and post it. Put up, or shut up.

Anonymous said...

Poster 8:12 PM implied comments about NNSA's plan to hold the labs to 90% of the CR funding indicate to me that NNSA *WANTS* to see some downsizing take place at the labs.

D'Agostino may believe that layoffs will result in more efficient and more compliant NNSA labs in the future. If so, then we shouldn't expect to hear NNSA issue any strong words against the FY08 budget cuts. They'll put up only token resistance.

Anonymous said...

This looming RIF is just too delicious to be finished off quickly. Let's drag it out sloooowly, so the high anxiety can be enjoyed to the maximum extent, shall we?

Think of it as a thrilling workplace form of coitus interruptus.

Anonymous said...

At our group meeting last week, our GL told us that it's standard procedure under a CR to only allocate 90% of the CR budget.

Anonymous said...

I've been at LANL for many years, worked under many CRs, and never heard of this 90% rule. I think D'Agostino pulled it straight out of his ass. He wants to see layoffs in the NNSA complex so that he can afford the expensive production facilities planned for in Complex 2030.

Anonymous said...

Our GL was probably only stating the precise party line passed out in the managers meeting. When we asked, what's so different about this CR over all of the other CRs we've lived through, there was no answer.